The Bailiwick Bat Survey team are pleased to announce that the 2023 bat surveying season is here and the booking system is now open for all volunteers to select their squares to survey and book in their equipment.
The survey aims to improve our understanding of the distribution and activity of the different species of bat found in Guernsey, Herm, Alderney and Sark whilst providing an opportunity for anyone across the islands to take part in this research project.
The Bailiwick Bat Survey is a citizen science project which offers anyone in the Bailiwick the opportunity to borrow automated equipment to record our local bats using methods devised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
The project, commissioned by Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services (ACLMS) as part of the implementation of the Strategy for Nature, and co-ordinated by La Société, will collect the data required to improve our understanding of the status and distribution of different bat species and other high-frequency noise producing nocturnal wildlife across the islands. Our partners, the Alderney Wildlife Trust and La Société Serquaise will be co-ordinating the surveys in Alderney and Sark.
Alderney Wildlife Trust, La Société Serquaise, the Guille-Allès Library, Sir Charles Frossard House and La Société Guernesiaise have all volunteered to be ‘Bat Centres’ for the 2023 surveying season. Volunteers can borrow a bat detector kit from any one of these centres which contains all the instructions and equipment required to take part in the survey.
Volunteers are asked to select a square (measuring 500 x 500 metres) from an online sign-up map, and to place a static bat detector in typical habitat in their chosen square for a four-night period twice per year, once between the start of April and mid-July, and then again to record at the same location between mid-July and the end of the October.
The bat detector automatically records bat calls to a memory card every time a bat passes throughout a night. After four nights’ recording, volunteers are then requested to upload their recordings to our website and return the detector kit. Our automated sound analysis will then identify each sound recording to species and send you the initial results within hours! As a bonus, the analysis will also identify sounds made by bush crickets and small mammals. These recordings will be manually verified at the end of the season.
Phil Atkinson, BTO, commented: “The Bailiwick Bat Survey is designed to connect and engage our community with an aspect of nature that is generally poorly known about. Using citizen science in this way, it will help raise awareness of what bats do for us and why it is important to conserve them.
“The success of this project is dependent on volunteer participation and as the survey runs from the start of April until the end of October, there is plenty of time to take part. Anyone can get involved – you do not need to be a bat expert!”
The validation of the 2022 results of the survey confirmed the presence of 13 bat species for the Bailiwick, an increase of one species from 2021 following the validation of Soprano Pipistrelle. This species was recorded in the Bailiwick Bat Survey for the first time in 2022, from one location in Alderney, recorded on three nights. As well as a new species for the Bailiwick, there was also three first species records for some of the individual islands. The second year of surveying allowed us to have a much better understanding of the status of all species of bats across the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and of the relative importance of different areas.
If you are interested in taking part, please head here to find out more and to reserve your square to survey. If you have any queries about the Bailiwick Bat Survey project or equipment, please email the co-ordinator.
Main picture: Soprano Pipistrelle bat. Photo courtesy of Daniel Hargreaves.